Mannheim, Germany - Women’s Month, August 2018, is also the 130th anniversary of the first ever road trip by a combustion-powered vehicle. And the driver was a woman.
Karl Benz built his first three-wheeled Patent Motorwagen in 1885 and by August 1888 he was on Version 3.0, developed and built using finance mostly provided by his wife Bertha, daughter of the wealthy Ringer family of Pforzheim. Nevertheless, he still regarded the vehicle as experimental, and had never driven further than around the courtyard of his workshop.
Bertha, however, saw things differently. If her husband’s invention was to gain the recognition it needed to attract serious investors, it had to be out there, showing the world what he had achieved.
So, at 5am on the morning of 12 August she and her two young sons, without telling Karl, pulled the Motorwagen out of the workshop and started it, and she climbed aboard and set off down the wagon tracks that passed for main roads in southwestern Germany in the 1880s, to go and visit her family in Pforzheim, 106km away.
This recent video by Mercedes-Benz recreates that pioneering drive: